PropTech in the era of the Instant Economy

By Pilgrim - October 31, 2019

Better buildings, now!

Many existing commercial buildings, ranging from office space to commercial warehousing are “semi-smart”, with some pretty skanky legacy BMS systems in place which are not going to be thrown-out overnight. By ‘skanky’ I mean that the solutions are technically old-fashioned (vendor-locked and not internet-connected) and hard to understand - and therefore hard to optimise. For building owners and tenants this can result in high running costs and a poor service experience.

Meanwhile the "instant economy" is teaching us all to expect information at our fingertips, and solutions in minutes not weeks. How to get this from our buildings? PropTech to the rescue.

The rapidly-emerging open PropTech ecosystem makes it increasingly easy to retrofit cheap, light technology over the top, to optimise building performance and to hold legacy systems to account. DevicePilot is the analytics tool which then enables a host of PropTech applications, so we thought it might be interesting to outline some of the ways that it's being used in buildings across the world, below.

Built around the customer from day one, DevicePilot is the most powerful and yet easy-to-use PropTech analytics tool on the planet, bringing everything together into a "single pane of glass" to provide near-instant answers to almost any PropTech question.

1. Energy optimisation

energy-optimisation2By adding simple retrofit temperature and presence sensors, it's possible to measure rooms or areas which are being heated/cooled even when they are unoccupied, representing an opportunity to save energy and CO2 which can amount to 30% or more - huge impact to the bottom line.

By tracking usage of larger spaces such as warehouses or open-plan, it's possible to optimise lighting too, increasing comfort and safety, even while reducing energy.

And by measuring temperature, humidity, light levels, noise, CO2 and particulates there are plenty of opportunities to improve tenant comfort, and thus differentiate commercial buildings from those of rival providers.

2. Health & Safety

A host of building services require regular checking to ensure that they don't represent a hazard. These include:

fire-door-propped-open
    • Checking that hot water systems achieve at least 60C regularly, to avoid Legionella risk
    • At the other end of the temperature scale, HACCP legislation requires that any fridges, freezer or cold stores used to hold food on site need to be monitored regularly to prove that they are maintaining proper temperature, to avoid food poisoning risk.
    • Annual testing of fire extinguisher pressure, and that emergency lights do activate when needed, and that their batteries are providing the required 3 hours of run-time.
    • Rapidly detecting any fire doors that are propped-open (usually with fire-extinguishers!)
    • Leak detection - early detection of leaks in washrooms and roofs can save millions by avoiding structural damage and the risk of ceiling collapse.
    • Outside a property, lighting needs to be provably adequate, with bulbs replaced in a timely fashion to avoid lawsuits.

3. Space and Asset Optimisation

iStock-998334492As work practices become increasingly flexible, tenants and building owners increasingly need to track the utilisation of hot desks, meeting rooms etc. - to ensure that they optimising the use (e.g. cleaning only when needed) and also to help tenants find free space. Space in industrial property such as warehouses can be optimised too, for example by using the motion sensors now built into modern connected-lighting to identify "hot spots" of activity representing poor goods placement or congestion.

Outside the building, management can extend to parking, with per-space sensors increasingly used to help identify when a car-park is full, and help tenants find free spaces.

And IoT can also be used to track mobile assets and measure their utilisation, for example wheelchairs or oxygen cylinders in hospitals. 

Single pane of glass

Having deployed sensors to measure all of the above, it's then the job of Analytics to pull it all together. Specific types of analysis and dashboard can be built for specific job functions, as the needs of building managers are different from facilities managers, and from tenants.

Specific "deep, narrow" systems certainly have their place for e.g. BMS, BIM, FM and space management, but in addition there is a big need to pull-together the salient information from all these types of sensor and system into one "single pane of glass" - to give the big picture of how a building (or group of buildings) is running. This will typically show a set of service KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) around energy, comfort, utilisation etc. and show whether they are meeting the Service Level Agreements that might exist between service providers and tenants or building owners.

It's worth noting that not all this data comes just from IoT systems - data can be usefully ingested from other sources too, whether it's meeting-room bookings or e.g. outside temperature from a weather service to calculate the "degree-days" which are at the heart of any building energy calculation.

Conclusion

To improve anything, first make it visible - if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it. The combination of modern IoT sensors and analytics rapidly achieves just that - deployed and usable literally in hours rather than the years it can take to replace legacy systems.

From that moment on, everyone is empowered to get immediate answers to their property questions, now and in the future, without having to beg software developers or data analysts. The way that the PropTech IoT ecosystem has opened-up recently enables plug-and-play and avoids lock-in, too.

DevicePilot analytics for Proptech addresses all the property challenges listed above and more, in conjunction with our hardware partners including Disruptive Technologies (measuring temperature, humidity, occupancy, leaks), HC technologies (smart meters), NetIO (smart power sockets), Yanzi (space utilisation) and ParkDroid (parking sensors).

Contact us today to explore how we can cure your property headache.

 

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